Today marked another milestone in my journey. My first assigned court case as a CASA volunteer was closed; for those of you unfamiliar with the term “CASA” = “Court Appointed Special Advocate” for an abused or neglected child in the Juvenile Court System. I am unable to go into detail about the case. However, I can tell you that there were at least two incidents where my report, read by the magistrate, made a difference during the process. In those moments, where I knew I had truly been heard, it was worth all the time and effort I had put into this opportunity! As I reflect back on the experience as a whole, I may have become the voice of a child, but I am the one who grew! Whenever you give, you receive.
Free continuing education opportunities are provided almost monthly by the CASA organization. That continuing education enlightened me to a lot about the world around me that I had not yet experienced. As a result of becoming a CASA volunteer I took classes entitled “The Culture of Poverty”, “Street Drugs” and gleaned a lot of wisdom from volunteers who have been doing this a lot longer than I have. Attending our book club forced me to read a book that I otherwise may not have picked up entitled “Etched in Sand”. I was moved by this book and what I took away from it. At the book club I was privileged to meet a diverse group of people who shared their thoughts and feelings on the message in this book. My take away? Hope makes a difference, and lives can be altered by just one person taking the time to say “I believe in you”. Simultaneously with this volunteer opportunity, God was aligning my steps to volunteer at a “Hope Over Heroin” event and starting a clothes ministry at the church for those in need. In speaking with former drug addicts at the “Hope Over Heroin” events, this allowed me to better understand some of the situations encountered as a CASA. In the Culture of Poverty class provided by CASA, this has helped in my starting the clothes ministry. It’s amazing to me to step back and see how different steps on our journey are woven together to move us forward in the direction we are to go.
As a new year approaches, many start thinking about changes and opportunities to volunteer. I would like to encourage you to consider this opportunity to become the voice of a child. Many counties in many states have this program. (You may also hear the term Guardian Ad Litem instead of CASA). You will receive 40 hours of training (but they are of an evening and spread out over 2-3 months so it fits well into busy schedules.) Volunteers are sworn in by the county magistrate. Once you are assigned a case, you have a couple of hours prep up front, and a hearing; and then it’s typically no more than 1-2 hours a month by making a home visit. You can’t take the family in your vehicle and you can’t purchase anything for them while the case is open. This truly is just a gift of time. I encourage you to consider giving up 2 hours a month of social media, video games or TV and become the difference in the life of a child. Be that “hope” that inspires someone to keep moving!! (For more information: Please see the link to the Clermont County CASA on the Home Page under “Links”).
“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.” – Matthew 18:5